How Can Being Slapped by a Wild Monkey Help You Write?

Squirrel monkey

See? It's watching me.

 …I wouldn’t give the wild monkey any food. So it crawled up on the bench next to me, put one arm around my shoulders. I thought, ‘Cool, I guess we’re still friends.’ Then the monkey reached out with its other arm, slapped me across the cheek, grabbed a banana, and ran off. My friend from Holland leaned over and said, ‘You know that monkey owns you now’.

Being slapped by a monkey has been my favorite story for the past year since it happened to me in Costa Rica. But it has been useful in more than just an entertainment sense. I have used its retelling to practice my story-telling skills.

Telling a story out loud can improve your writing skills. Need proof?

  1. What’s Funny?: Through experimentation and observation of your audience, you can discover what story aspects are the most interesting to your audience. Pay attention, because their favorite part is probably different from your favorite part.
  2. Impromptu: Vocal story telling can be a welcome break from writing your stories, and can also get creative juices really flowing as you try to speak with visuals without any chance to go back and erase small words.
  3. Unaccounted for Questions: If you have any holes in your story, the listener (if you are keeping their attention) will probably speak up. If you get questions with any sort of consistency, you have just identified an aspect of your writing that will be critiqued as well.
  4. Experimentation: Play with story. Drop out parts, add description, drop description, change the punch line slightly. Again, be sure to observe your audience. What will their attention span handle? Is it less or more funny if you change this small bit?

People are goldfish these days (I am among them). We all have increasingly shorter attention spans and only want to hear the point of the story. So be sure to keep your story short and concise when talking to others. Efficiency goes a long way in conversation.

Try this out with a story, post below, and let me know how it goes!


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